Health care has become one of the biggest and essential services in the world right now. With an ever-growing population, the need for healthcare services is skyrocketing. From schools to big companies all provide healthcare facility in one or the other to their employees. The use of Blockchain in BigData and healthcare department is pretty new and is still requires a lot of room for further development.
Most healthcare companies use different blockchain implementation to manage their trial data and medical records while handling personal privacy in addition to regulatory compliance.
So today we will be discussing how Blockchain is helping the healthcare industry in revolutionizing their database system and what can we expect from it in the near future. Also, we’ll look into healthcare scenarios where the use of Blockchain improves the final result drastically.
Different Healthcare Industry & Scenarios where Blockchain is helpful
#1 Drug traceability
In 2019, one of the biggest problems the healthcare industry is facing is the manufacturing of counterfeit drugs.
The production of these drugs yields a huge profit every year, and their market keeps on growing in developing countries.
The dominant player of counterfeit drug manufacturing is India and China. The annual counterfeit drug market is estimated to be more than $200 Billion.
The world health organization estimates 16% of the counterfeit drugs have different salts and ingredients, and 17% of them have ingredients in the wrong proportion make them more harmful than beneficial.
The solution Blockchain provides
We are not going to explain what the Blockchain is as most of our readers have a pretty good idea what it is and how it works so we will straight jump to the solution.
See, Blockchain, as we all know, is used for security purposes, and here also it provides security. Every single transaction which is added to the Blockchain is immutable and has its timestamp which can’t be changed.
Thus, it’s easier for the patient to verify the origin of the drug and the dealer without providing any room for the information alteration.
The private Blockchain which is being controlled by the central entity is more trustworthy than the public Blockchain in terms of finding the authenticity of the drug in the Blockchain.
When a manufacturer produces a drug, a hash is generated in the Blockchain which consists of all the information about the drug. Whenever the drug goes from one entity to the other in the chain, the new data gets stored in the hash. As a result, traceability of the manufacture becomes easy and less time-consuming.
You don’t have to wait for the whole process to be finished before you can see the result or in this case, the information of the drug. As each stakeholder adds new information to the block, it is possible to go through the whole Blockchain to find the drug’s history of manufacturing and trustworthiness.
#2 Patient’s information Management
One of the issues hospitals and health department everywhere in the world face is the management of patient’s data such as the disease they have diagnosed with and what medication they are taking and the consulting doctor.
The thing is that each patient is unique, you can’t characterize them into one group, and most of the time, hospitals categorize patients into groups leading the problem of data management.
The medication given to one patient might not affect the other patient in the same way, or it requires more concentrated dosage to know all these minute information doctors need to have complete medical records of every single patient to successfully provide the personal care with the patient needs.
The medical data is quite sensitive, and many doctors use social networks to communicate and share the patient’s data, which could lead to unauthorized changes or theft of the data.
As a result, we can see that lack of secure data management structure is one of the biggest hurdles the healthcare department is facing right now.
Moreover, the medical records of a minority or exceptional cases are kept in the different geological location, making it hard for the other researchers to evaluate the data as there is no common database for the data extraction.
One more issue that Blockchain can solve is the ownership of the data, at this moment patient can’t claim the full ownership of their medical records as a different medical institute have a different way of working with the database.
Also, if the full authorization is given to the patient, one cannot be sure if they change their medical information, which could eventually lead to repercussions to both personal and public health.
#3- How Blockchain can help manage the patient’s data
Blockchain implementation provides not only the structure but also a secure way to share the data. For example, you provide your information such as date of birth, name, blood group, height, procedure, and prescriptions to healthcare.
This data of you is stored in the organizations already established the database. Your information is then stored in hash which gets linked to the Blockchain along with your public ID.
To use public ID, smart contracts implementation can be used to manage patients data access successfully.
Without even revealing the patient’s identity, data can be extracted from the source by asking a query through an API.
If it is necessary, a patient can provide his/her full medical record to any of the healthcare organization who were the stakeholders of the Blockchain.
In addition to this, Blockchain also includes freedom of choice to the patient. One can choose to share identifiable data to there doctor and non-identifiable data with the healthcare organizations.
The main advantage this system has over the others is that the patient has the control to give access to their medical records.
The patient uses smart contracts condition to decide on which basis the data can be shared and to whom.
Furthermore, if the patient is not in a condition to make a decision, 3-4 different stakeholders can grant permission for someone to access the data making the data incorruptible and accessible in times of need.
One more thing we can do with this implementation is to add the data recorded by wearables such as smart healthcare watches which check your heartbeat and how many steps you have taken in a day, blood pressure monitors etc.
A patient can add this vital information by using smart contracts. Furthermore, the patient associated with the healthcare organization can see this data and can use it for shaping the treatment process and prescriptions.
#4- Blockchain a game-changer in healthcare services
As we have already discussed how, in different scenarios, Blockchain can be helpful in healthcare. Now we look at the changes it can bring in healthcare as a whole and what we can expect from it shortly. The leading players who are likely to implement Blockchain are regulators and the market markers. Managing the data of the patient and securely transferring it within the healthcare system and keep track of supply chain management are great examples of how Blockchain can be impactful. Let’s take a closer look at these two examples.
Data has no use if it’s unshareable. Blockchain provides a medium for the better sharing of data between different healthcare organizations.
The ability of distributed ledger to make sure the integrity of the data remains intact while sharing will eventually help in collaboration between significant healthcare communities.
Which indeed is vital for the betterment of healthcare procedure worldwide.
Managing the Supply Chain
We all know about bitcoin and how it uses blockchain technology to ensure secure and transparent monitoring of transactions.
Blockchain will work in the same way in managing the supply chain, making the transactions be documented in a permanent decentralized record.
As a result, no-one will be able to change or temper the purchases; thus, no time-delays, human errors, and added costs will be seen in the process.
Blockchain can provide a single platform where complex team-based healthcare, payment and finance can be done quickly.
At this moment, it’s hard to build trust and security among the two parties who are sharing their data as information can be meddled anywhere in between the transfer.
Also, there is an issue of multiple records generated by different vendors for the same patient that are not validated.
Blockchain is cryptographically secured, and data present in the blocks can be authenticated by the use of digital signatures, which is unique for each stakeholder of the Blockchain. Thus, it eradiates all the management issues healthcare sectors are facing right now in cost and time-efficient way.
So, in conclusion, we would say that Blockchain has still a long way to go to merge in the healthcare sector properly, but the change has started and as if for now it only shows positive results.
If appropriately implemented Blockchain can actually help healthcare industry not only manage their data but also to find solutions to some of the most complex medical disease as doctors will be able to share their knowledge all across the world and get the insights of each other’s research as well without having to worry about the hinderance or data manipulation.